3 Quick Ways to Get Control of Overactive Empathy

You know when you get a glimpse into someone else’s emotional experience or their pain?  You can really feel it for a moment and sometimes it might bring you to tears or motivate you to help someone.  That’s empathy.

Overactive empathy, on the other hand, is when you have that experience of opening up to someone else’s emotions and experience, but then instead of coming back to yourself afterwards and being centered in your own needs and feelings, you remain ‘out there’ – absorbed in everyone else’s ‘stuff’.  In social situations, you can sense what everyone else is feeling and thinking.  Even walking past people in the street, you can feel and sense what is going on with them.  Physical empaths can even pick up physical pains and aches that aren’t theirs.

(If you want to find out more about the symptoms of overactive empathy, read this article: Is Overactive Empathy Ruining Your Life?)

The Downside of Overactive Empathy

While your energy is ‘doing the rounds’ and picking up on what everyone else is doing and feeling, your life becomes charged with emotions and pain that aren’t even yours and it becomes difficult to maintain a state of focus or centredness.  Meanwhile, what you feel and need can go completely neglected.

Overactive empathy can lead to people-pleasing, self-sacrifice and self-neglect.  It can also lead to co-dependence because when you can feel other people’s emotions to such a degree, they become yours and you want to help more than is appropriate.

This is one of the things some psychic and spiritual people struggle with.

In this article, I’m going to give a few practical tips to help you to overcome overactive empathy.

1. Pay Attention to How YOU Feel

In order to get centred, you need to check in with yourself emotionally at least once a day and tune in to how you feel. Make a log before you go to bed of how you feel and why.  When people ask you to do something, before you say yes, check in with how you feel about it.  Don’t just feel their need and then respond to that.  Take time to become centered and for your feelings to come through.  Sometimes your own feelings about things take time to come through when you’re too tuned in to everyone else’s.

Meditation can also be a good centering tool if you do it regularly and imagine recalling your energy back from other people and feeling complete again. When I feel like my energy is ‘out there’ and ungrounded (especially after I’ve been working on the computer and internet all day) I often do a visualization where I see my energy coming back to me from the internet sites I’ve visited, the people I’ve talked to, the spirits I’ve spoken to and the clients I’ve worked with. A visualization like that just sets the intention to bring your energy back to you and can be very helpful.

2. Get into the habit of asking Source to take away energies that aren’t yours

When you feel overwhelmed, or like you lost yourself in interactions with other people, try taking three deep, long breaths, then saying this little prayer:

“I now call on the power of Source/God and the Archangels to remove from my energy field all energies that do not belong to me.  It is done, it is done, it is done.”

You can make your own little prayer or memorize the one above.  It doesn’t need to be complicated or long. As you can see, the prayer above is short and simple. Calling on source/the angels is very powerful for clearing out energies and it works.

3. Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself

Most empaths are not having fun in their interactions with other people.  They often have the attitude that they are here to help others who are suffering.  They often feel dutiful and feel responsible for other people’s feelings – they feel they are there to help others to feel better.

To remedy this, focus on having fun in your interactions with others.  In social situations, if you’re not having fun then don’t engage so much with the person you’re talking to. When you’re talking to someone who is draining your energy, intend to pull back.  Put your enjoyment first in social situations and pay less attention to other people than you would normally.  This may sound incredibly selfish but the fact is that many empaths need this change in approach.

I also wrote another article to help you to diagnose where empathy might be ‘running’ you:

Is Overactive Empathy Ruining Your Life

Are you an empath who feels like your empathy gift is more of a curse than a blessing? If so, I invite you to download the free preview of my book The Empath’s Toolkit: A Guide to Recovery for the Overwhelmed Empath below!

Intuitive Experiment Worksheet

Download the Free Preview
of Anna’s Book The Empath’s Toolkit…

…Packed with Instructions and Tips on How to Come Back
Into Balance with Your Amazing Empath Gifts.

Meet Anna

Hi, I’m Anna Sayce! My purpose here on this website is to provide practical techniques and information to help empaths to understand, and fix the root of their energetic overwhelm & also to help sensitives to embrace and develop their intuitive gifts. I believe that developing our spiritual & intuitive side is very powerful and allows us to improve our own lives, and if we wish, even make the world a better place for others. Discover more >


  1. Kate

    thats a great point Anna, have fun, gawd I feel so duty bound some days being empathic. Could I even be mindless in my interactions??? lol

  2. Catriona

    Thank you Anna! I felt a bit tearful reading this, so it definitely chimed with me. I think empathy can be a dual thing for me – both a duty (to understand and help) and satisfaction of curiosity about what the next person is feeling. Not sure if satisfying that curiosity can at times be almost unethical (prying into someone else’s business)? And yes, have fun! So simple and yet so true – will try to focus on that a bit more. xxx

  3. janelle

    Thank you so much for your articles on overactive empathy and Rose Rosetree’s books.
    That’s me. And although I’ve always known I’m sensitive, and have been accused of being ‘too sensitive’ I didn’t realize it was a case of being an empath, not just being too much of something and not enough of something else.

  4. Debbie

    I have always been able to walk into a room and know the current feeling of the person in the room. Sometimes going to a party is wonderful and other times incredibly draining. It wasn’t until last week when a Psychic told me I was very empathic that I even knew what to call this thing I have been able to do all my life. Thank you for this article and I know the little prayer will help so much. Nothing like having to hide out in a bathroom for 10-15 minutes at parties, family or work.

    • Anna

      Hi Debbie,

      Your comment made me chuckle. When I used to go to clubs (discos) I would escape to the bathroom for 10 mins because I couldn’t handle the energy in there. I thought I was the only one who did that!

  5. suzane

    I was very open armed so to say and did and do like to relate and be with people but hard way had started to learn to put boundaries. But because Not all people are as free spirited and sensitive and one does not want to lose this sensitivity oneself i have notise that that have made me sometimes withdrawn from others and or be much more alert with or around people or thinking twice before answering yes to invitations. Truthfully I do not want to pull myself back actually but that what do happen nowdays a bit. With good will in heart one can be little naive sometimes, even if one is seeing through the situation or people. Anyhow thanks for the article, nice to read other people wisdom and understanding on the topic.

  6. Angel

    Thank you for sharing this article…woke up this morning after 23 years and decided to google why the heck people always come talk to me about their problems why I’m able to give great advice without ever stepping foot into that same situation…and Facebook has me going crazy now with all the info about the Wars and all…. 🙁 lol thank you

  7. Christine

    A great article, Anna, thank you. I have always had a feeling that my friends come to me only when they have a problem and when they feel like partying they turn to other people. Now I understand why, it is probably the attitude that I have assumed, that I need to help everybody.
    As for the prayer, I have indeed noticed that when I feel confused with all the contradictory feelings that I have (earlier I couldn’t understand those were not only my feelings), it always helps me to go to church and pray to God to clear my thoughts an help me see clearly what I want and what is good for me. It always worked for me, I feel calmer and much more focused after going to church. I am not sure if it is because of the prayer itself or the strong spiritual energy concentrated in churches. Maybe I can try my prayer at home as well.

  8. Nicole

    I just want to turn it off. Please.. Not only do I feel other people’s feelings and thoughts but I see things in my dreams then later they happen… But I’m always to late to do anything about it. It’s so frustrating. I know when people are lying but can’t prove it. Can’t talk to anyone because they’ll think I’m crazy.. Please help.. I feel like I’m going crazy.

  9. Joan Cattermole

    Hi I have just joined and Im so relieved I have found you. The prayer works wonders for me. The comment from Nicole on 20 January I can relate to so much. I try to describe what its like to friends (tuning into a radio and finding my channel) ha! even when I am asleep. On waking I feel bad because I cant do anything about it (sometimes I do act on it and get results…not straight away tho! but I do get confirmation). How can I stop this while sleeping?

  10. Kimberly Becerra

    Haven’t owned a TV for years can’t watch or read news never quite know who where it will happen shaken for days when taken off track can be week before ok. Especially children seeing hand slammed in door my Brian crazy wild with pain. She was ok not even crying

  11. Sabrina

    I don’t have enough info, enough confirmation as to what I really am or what I’m feeling yet. But this may be my starting point. It started with homeless people near our car I would see them and just immediately get depressed if I wasn’t quick enough to offer or had nothing to offer them. I would think about them and what they’re going through weeks afterwords even though I never saw them again. My family doesn’t understand and I thought “they are so disconnected from these people. Why can’t they look at them? Why can’t they feel what I’m feeling? Now I suspect I am the one out of place. What’s my first resource? How do you ever get the confirmation needed to be an empath? What if I’m just weird? If I don’t fit into that box what am i?

  12. Indre

    I feel like empathy has been somehow a problem all my life after reading your articles. I could relate to multiple points at different stages throughout my life. I think im one of those who can’t turn it off, however i think i grew into weird peronality traits to help me cope with it. I run a mental assesment of my physical body needs all the time to focus on my own energy alone. I also have an OCD like enjoyment of a routine or habitual living that comforts me.. Same meal everyday or same routine..that way i know it’s not the same old oatmeal upsetting me, it’s someone else’s energy that day! I know i can feel other’s emotions but sometimes im afraid to let go of them because im scared to face my own emotions by themselves!

  13. Paul

    I want to start this by saying, I was raised by a now ordained metaphysical minister. I grew up surrounded by all kinds of different essential oils and stones that were used for energy work and random other ailments. Do you know if any stones or oils can help balance the energy flow? I’ve worn Astrophilite and a few other stones/pendants for a few months because it is supposed to ground you and create a kind of bubble, but I only noticed the energy more. There are times where a severe case of what feels like deja vu will happen, and then the next day the event that I recalled happens. These “insights”, if that’s the better word, have been happening more and more frequently and I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of anything like this happening with Empaths?

    Nicole you aren’t alone, this is the first post I’ve ever made in an attempt to understand what this is, and what I can do with it. I’ve held my tongue about being able to pick up on the emotions around me, because like you I thought I would be laughed at. Lucky for us there are people out there to help us learn about this gift/curse, how ever you look at it.

  14. Vanessa

    It took me years to realise that I have a lot of empathy, reading your article, life seems to make sense to me now, as to how I have felt, feeling at certain times in my life, I have great trouble in dealing with it. So I turned to the internet and found your blog. I am currently doing a course of Spiritual Healing, hoping this will help me. I’ve always been different, like trying to be a square peg in a round hole, just doesn’t fit. I even
    talk, reason and debate to myself, what to do, driving myself to despair, I’m going to try your prayer to see if I can control this empathy.

    Thank you for sharing.

  15. Lucy

    Being an empath drove me to get a masters degree in psychology. I left the counseling field. Like a sponge, I’d absorb my clients misery. They felt great relief but by the end of the day I felt awful. I too am uncomfortable at gatherings. I used to smoke cigarettes as an excuse to ‘get away’ for a few minutes. When I quit, I found myself hiding in the bathroom to gain relief from the chaotic mix of emotions coming at me. I’m married to a man who has a large emotional body full of rage and self-contempt since he came back from Iraq and Afghanistan during the war. He won’t get help for PTSD. I’ve struggled to protect myself from his emotions and outbursts. Do you have a suggestion for protecting myself while living in this environment? Do you have a suggestion for ridding myself of a discarnate relative who has attached herself to me for the sake of continuing to unload her saddness onto me? I know it sounds like I’m wallowing in victumhood. I have a great desire to be FREE! Thank you.

  16. Cyndy Mix

    Yes I feel so, so sad for those people in texas that I can’t stop crying. It makes it worse that I live with chronic pain. I have no money and can’t help due to my condtion. The world is so sad. I wish I could take that all that away and when people are hurting from a loss of life or losing their homes. Is there a self help book I could get? Thank you for your time. Cyndy Mix

  17. afridi

    i knew i was different, but ddnt knew this was happening, i can even feel the animals :'( , and another day a kid was hurd badly, and sad, i just touched him and i felt his pain, and sadness in my head, is this really bad?

  18. rethabile

    Hi, I am rethabile. I also experience this empathy thing, I just don’t know who to talk to because nobody understands me when I try to explain myself, I feel so weird, I don’t enjoy life at all, nothing I do works out for my good. I’m always feeling like there’s a weight in my heart and brain. This has gone way too far b/c I’ve now become a very forgetful person; I can’t concentrate or even forces for my mind is always busy figuring things out, at church I’ve been told that I have a gift and I must pray too hard. Some people call me a witch while others feel comfortable to confide their deepest secrets in me. I feel so future less that I even sometimes think God doesn’t exist, lastly, I have a tendency of freezing electrical appliances and devices. I am so scared

  19. Kim

    I often cry and feel bad for others that I do not even know. I read a story today about a boy who has a condition which makes him look different than other children so he is being bullied. He is only seven and has no friends and even talks of suicide. It is sad and makes my heart break. After reading or seeing something that I feel is upsetting I just can’t stop thinking about it. It ends up keeping me awake at night and not being able to focus on other things. I have always been this way since I was a child. I think I am too old to change now but I notice my daughter is also this way.

  20. Julie

    Makes sense Anna, thank you

  21. Geff Symons

    In the last few years, I have come to suspect that I have some sort of empathic abilities. People have often said I read minds. I was not born one just happened to grow up in a sometimes violent family and it helped me and my sister to be aware of when the parents were going to get into it. The thing is it’s starting to become a problem as I get older. I can barely be in a large crowd, particularly when there is drinking. Sometimes someone else’s emotions/thoughts are so overriding that I start to feel what they feel.
    Add on top of it, I have a touch of Asperger’s. Fun ha.
    Anyone got ideas besides becoming a hermit?

  22. Robert daniels

    You have filled in a missing piece of the puzzle almost convinced I was insane I was a minister For 15 years and have been an empath all my life and havent realized it. I stepped down because I really cared but the negative energy drove me away I couldn’t help enough couldn’t say no to loving people It hurt me so I hid out of view trying to figure it out so thank you. You don’t know what a weight has been removed from my thinking that I’m not alone thank You again God bless the truth!.

  23. PsychicKev

    Excellent article I agree with everything you mentioned. As an empath, clairvoyant and card reader I daily use meditation, visualisations and grounding/protection. This helps me before coming into contact with any client or even anything negative.

  24. Meliza

    I just found out that I am an empath, and I’m having a hard time dealing with the pains, emotions and feelings of those I meet outside. I get overwhelmed by their emotions. There was a point that I am on suicidal mode and I do not know from whom I got this emotions. It’s hard. How do I deal with this?

  25. Butsa

    I am recently having trouble with my (or other peoples’?) emotions staying with me from work etc… I am a nurse. I have taken care of a number of families who lost loved ones. I am finding I can’t even watch tv (episodes I have seen many times before!) without feeling for the characters! I used to be super sensitive to seeing animals hurt growing up (I refuse to re-watch a number of movies for the scars they gave me), but I can’t afford to let my emotions overrun my thinking at work. Help please!


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